President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992
The President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992, or the JFK Records Act, is a public law passed by the United States Congress, effective October 26, 1992. It directed the National Archives and Records Administration to establish a collection of records to be known as the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection. It stated that the collection shall consist of copies of all U.S. government records relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, which shall be transmitted to the National Archives. Assassination records also included those created or made available for use by, obtained by, or otherwise came into the possession of any state or local law enforcement office that provided support or assistance or performed work in connection with a federal inquiry into the assassination.
The Act requires that each assassination record be publicly disclosed in full, and be available in the collection no later than the date that is 25 years after the date of enactment of the Act (i.e., October 26, 2017), unless the President of the United States certifies that: (1) continued postponement is made necessary by an identifiable harm to the military defense, intelligence operations, law enforcement, or conduct of foreign relations; and (2) the identifiable harm is of such gravity that it outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
Assassination Records Review Board
The Act established, as an independent agency, the Assassination Records Review Board (ARRB) to consider and render decisions when a U.S. government office sought to postpone the disclosure of assassination records. The Board met for four years, from October 1, 1994 to September 30, 1998. When the Act was passed in 1992, 98 percent of all Warren Commission documents had been released to the public. By the time the Board disbanded, all Warren Commission documents, except income tax returns, had been released to the public, with only minor redactions.
The ARRB collected evidence starting in 1992, then produced its final report in 1998. The ARRB was not enacted to determine why or by whom the murder was committed but to collect and preserve the evidence for public scrutiny. After the enactment of the federal law that created the ARRB, the Board collected a large amount of documents and took testimony of those who had relevant information of the events. The Committee finished its work in 1998 and in its final report, the ARRB outlined the problems that government secrecy created regarding the murder of President Kennedy. During the 1990s it collected the assassination documents which have been slowly released for public scrutiny.
Some of the information was gathered by way of testimony from witnesses that had eyewitness knowledge of the events. For example, the Board interviewed the physicians who treated the president's massive head wound at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. This was a highly trained team of emergency care physicians, some of whom testified in secret before the Warren Commission. These transcripts have now also been made public. Other information consists of a large number of documents from the FBI and CIA that were required to cooperate with the turnover of relevant records held secret by these agencies.
As of 2012 there are 50,000 pages of government documents relating to the assassination that have not been released.
- Kermit L. Hall, Member of the ARRB
- John R. Tunheim, Chairman of the ARRB
- David Marwell, Executive Director of the ARRB
- ARRB Final Report, p. 2. Redacted text includes the names of living intelligence sources, intelligence gathering methods still used today and not commonly known, and purely private matters. The Kennedy autopsy photographs and X-rays were never part of the Warren Commission records and were deeded separately to the National Archives by the Kennedy family in 1966 under restricted conditions. The JFK Records Act specifically excluded those records.
- Assassination Records Review Board (September 30, 1998). Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board (pdf). Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing Office. Retrieved March 7, 2012.
- The Problem of Secrecy and the Solution of the JFK Act
- Witnesses Before the Assassination Archives Review Board
- EXAMINATION BY MR. GUNN:
- Testimony Of Dr. Robert Nelson McClelland
- U.S. secrecy system “literally out of control” on Salon.com
- Thomas.gov at the Library of Congress: JFK Records Act
- After 45 Years, a Civil Rights Hero Waits for Justice by Thom Hartmann, The Huffington Post, June 10, 2009
- Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, September 1998
- Medical Testimony Before the Assassination Records Review Board
- Additional Medical Interviews Before the Assassination Records Review Board
- Master Set of Medical Exhibits Before the Assassination Records Review Board
- CIA Personnel Testimony Before the Assassination Records Review Board
- Washington D. C. 10-11-94 Persons Testimony Before the Assassination Records Review Board
- Dallas, Texas 11-18-94 Persons Testimony Before the Assassination Records Review Board
- Boston, Massachusetts 3-24-95 Persons Testimony Before the Assassination Records Review Board
- New Orleans, Louisiana 6-28-95 Persons Testimony Before the Assassination Records Review Board
- Los Angeles, California 9-17-96 Persons Testimony Before the Assassination Records Review Board
- Washington D. C. 4-2-97 Persons Testimony Before the Assassination Records Review Board
- Staff Memos of the Assassination Records Review Board
- Minnesota judge: CIA ‘probably misled’ panel he led on JFK assassination